Apr 11, 2014, 5:53 PM EDT
Throughout most of the second 45-minute session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the field was tight – within a second for all 23 cars. As it was, the top 19 ended within 0.9377 of a second, with the field covered by just 1.4354.
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay led most of the session before Justin Wilson, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, got ahead of him at 1:09.7016. Only two drivers made it into the 1:09 bracket in first practice, led by RHR’s Andretti teammate James Hinchcliffe.
It was close until Simon Pagenaud dropped a 1:09.1488 in the newly liveried blue, white and green No. 77 Charter Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports that put him up by more than half a second.
“It’s been good thus far,” said Pagenaud. “The Honda is behaving really well; the drivability is right there. We have good power delivery.”
But his countryman got within 0.012 of a second, with Sebastien Bourdais second in the No. 11 Mistic Electronic Cigarettes Chevrolet for KVSH Racing at 1:09.1608. Bourdais said the balance is good on his car.
Both are past Long Beach race winners; Pagenaud won the 2010 American Le Mans Series race, with Bourdais a three-time winner in the Champ Car ranks from 2005 through 2007.
A second Charter-sponsored entry, the No. 98 BHA/BBM Honda driven by rookie Jack Hawksworth, clocked in third at 1:09.4409.
The last two Long Beach race winners, Takuma Sato and Will Power, completed the top five.
Times are linked here; the session had no red flags.